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Rant: MS research fundraising?

Dear All I have just discovered that the UK's MS Society gave £1.2 million in research funding to universities in 2015. Yet it spent £6.9 million in the same year on fundraising, and a generous £10.5 million on salaries that year too. This information was given to me by the MS Society itself, so this is not hearsay etc. What?! It spends SEVENTEEN million plus pounds to raise ONE million plus pounds for research? Evidently, they need an Economist! It is clear that individuals with MS are very low down the food chain and I am furious. We look to this society to help us and we are clearly non-entities eh, unless we are walking the Great Wall of China or bullying our friends into walking sponsored 10kms etc. Effectively, these organisations want us to raise funding and then disappear. Plus, it takes weeks to get a response. Can anyone tell me otherwise? Can someone say they had a massage, a wheelchair, a counselling treatment countesy of the MS Society? Would anyone be interested in getting together (ie meeting) so we can organise our own group, or can Shift MS help us to shift the balance? Thanks for listening/reading...rant over! LucyH xx



@lucyh , I'm cynical like you too. But, I've just viewed the MS Society's audited accounts for 2015. Given the number of staff, their salary bill averages out to a figure that isn't much different to the UK average salary. And, they don't have anyone earning over £100k, which is pretty conservative when you consider the fat cat bankers on seven figure salaries. I know, accounts don't always tell the whole story - look at Tesco, who made a six figure error! But, they are audited by charity commissioners, etc., so we have to try and keep everything in context.



Lucy I am not surprised by the figures, its a business for them we are just an add on. do you think its any different at other Charities (I dont)



please view the charity-commission website and view the accounts salaries over 150k for the ms society uk,not too bad me thinks!!!



I do not work for the MS Society, but I do have a good knowledge of its activities; and I think some gentle reassurance is needed here. The £1.2m figure you are referring to must be for specific types of research not their full research spend, which I think was nearer £4.2m in 2015. The £6.9m spent raising funds is accurate for 2015, but clearly this is money they spent raising funds for all their work, not just research. And the comments about staff salaries are wildly misleading due to double-counting: £10.5m spent on salaries sounds correct, but it is not correct to add this to the £6.9m spent raising funds and assume they spend £17m raising funds. A good proportion of the £6.9m raising funds will be staff time. So when they say they spend £6.9m raising funds, they mean it – they're not spending extra money on fundraisers’ salaries on top of this amount. In fact, most of their staff time is not spent raising money, but on a wide range of activities, much of which relates to directly supporting people like you and me affected by MS. They have around 260 staff doing a wide range of work, including running a helpline and grants programme; supporting over 5,500 volunteers to provide services and support to MSers across the UK; producing quality information; maintaining their website and digital forums; campaigning and influencing public policy on things like welfare (excellent and dynamic CEO in Michelle Mitchell) employment and access to treatments; not to mention of course running an internationally respected research programme. The fact is, charitable work at this scale involves skilled and experienced professional staff as well as large numbers of committed volunteers and supporters. I’m sorry to have gone on, but I do feel some fair perspective is right. At St Paul's Cathedral on Thursday night, the MS Society is hoping to raise significant sums entirely for research. Still some tickets left - mssociety.org.uk/stpauls - come and see for yourselves what is being done, or watch it being live-steamed on the MS Society website.



It's always a question to be asked about charities - is the level of staff and other costs justified by what they achieve for their cause? As long as people keep asking the question and the charities make everything transparent the evidence will speak for itself. I know what you mean, though. I recently stopped my monthly donation to a large aid charity after I heard about their premises. When a friend's niece got a job in their headquarters, she was over the moon about her work space and facilities - all new and sparkly with mezzanine floor, potted plants, creche etc., in a totally different league from conditions at her previous post at a smaller environmental charity. Very nice, and they clearly didn't need my few pounds a month. I prefer the ethos of a smaller organisation which runs out of a prefab in Scotland and manages to provide daily meals for half the children in several African countries. In the case of the MS Society I guess we have to trust them because they're our main voice. Glad to hear the CEO is top rate.



I can tell you with complete reassurance, and not in any way meaning to offend them, that there is positively nothing flash about MS HQ!!